“. . . Tomorrow is our anniversary. Tomorrow we have been married at least one thousand years.” How does a woman move from one life to another? Can she? In this lyrical and often very funny novel, thirty-seven-year old Dore Dover searches for answers both in the familiar territories of old friendships and the mapless terrain of marriage.
What hope can there be for a woman who says aloud, “I drag that old life with me like a dead cat in a sack”?
“It has been pointed out to me that I am undefined, that I don’t know what I want, and that this is my whole problem. It is entirely probable. If I knew what I wanted, I’d just go get it. But as it is, I don’t know, and so here I sit on this damp stoop, outside a house we no longer own, leaving, with a husband whom, it is quite probable, I do not love, to go live in a rather isolated area, which, some time ago, gave me a great deal of pleasure.
“I am too old for this . . .”
Dore takes on the world and herself in this first novel by acclaimed poet Renée Ashley. While the ground is shifting beneath her, Dore discovers what her truths might be in the troubled places within herself.
Ashley, a prize-winning poet (Salt), makes the transition from poetry to fiction with graceful eloquence in this novel about a couple who move from New York City to their island summer home in an attempt to repair their fractured marriage. The story is told from the point of view of 37-year-old Dore, a thoughtful, withdrawn woman whose discontent with her husband, Evan, is so profound that she declares on the eve of her anniversary, "Tomorrow we've been married at least a thousand years." The couple packs and moves to the cottage, where Dore lives full time while Evan continues to work in Manhattan and comes out to the island for weekends. Their troubles, unsurprisingly, don't lift with the change of scenery. This is Dore's second marriage, we learn, her first having fallen apart after her infant daughter died in a car accident Dore still feels guilty about. These memories emerge during a flirtation with a handsome local waiter, one of the distractions Dore finds on the island, along with gardening and long walks. Dore's marital woes, like the emotional arc of the novel, are familiar, but she is likable and always convincing. Her lively, self-deprecating sense of humor also doesn't hurt. While the novel falls short of revelatory, Ashley shows a fine ear and an emotional acuity that make her book a pleasure to read.